N.J. teachers layoffs must be based on seniority, not performance, judge rules

TRENTON — A group of Newark parents has lost a legal battle to overhaul the way public school teachers in the state are laid-off — dealing another blow to education reform groups that have tried to dismantle similar protections across the country. In New Jersey, school districts must lay off teachers based on seniority, regardless of… Read the rest of this entry »

Posted: May 5th, 2017 | Author: | Filed under: Education, New Jersey, Newark, News | Tags: , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Quinnipiac poll: New Jersey Supports Gay Marriage, Wants A Referendum

“The numbers are all over the lot.”

A Quinnipiac University Poll released this morning indicates that New Jersey voters support same sex marriage by a 57%-37% margin.  By 67%-28% respondents said they support Governor Christie’s proposal the issue be decided via referendum.

Voters are split, 48%-47%, over whether Christie did the right thing vetoing same sex marriage bill approved by the legislature earlier this year.

“The numbers are all over the lot,” said Maurice Carroll, director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute, “Voter support for same-sex marriage goes up every time we ask, but about half of them think Christie was right to veto it.  By better than 2-1, they like the governor’s proposal for a referendum.”

The numbers seem to be all over the lot on education reform as well.

By 50%-43% voters approve of the way Christie is handling education. 60% think limiting teacher tenure is a good idea and 72% think merit pay for good teachers is a good idea.   Yet voters oppose school vouchers by 50%-44% and oppose expanding charter schools by 52%-41%.

New Jersey voters have a positive view of public school teachers, 57%-25% but an unfavorable view of the teachers union, NJEA, by a 46%-31%.  Only 42% of union households have a favorable view of the NJEA.

Posted: March 1st, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Education, Gay Marriage, marriage, Marriage Equality, Marriage Equality and Religious Exemptions Act, New Jersey | Tags: , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Quinnipiac poll: New Jersey Supports Gay Marriage, Wants A Referendum

Sen. Kyrillos Participates In Roundtable Discussion on Education Reform

Middletown— Senator Joe Kyrillos (R- Monmouth/Middlesex) this weekend reiterated his call for the Legislature to enact reforms to New Jersey’s public education system in the closing weeks of the 2010-2011 legislative session at a roundtable discussion on principal and teacher evaluations at Princeton University.

“New Jersey is a national leader in student achievement,” said Kyrillos, “yet too many students still move through the system without receiving the quality education to which they are entitled. Reforming our public education system will not just make the good schools better, it will help children trapped in failing school districts obtain the education they need to build better lives and futures.”

Senator Kyrillos provided opening remarks to the forum, “Leading the Charge”, hosted by education reform advocates Better Education for Kids, Students First, and Princeton Students for Education Reform. They day’s panel discussions included public school teachers and administrators, representatives of the Department of Education, as well as leaders from the American Federation of Teachers and New Jersey Education Association.

Kyrillos said he is proud to sponsor two bills that are part of Governor Christie’s education reform agenda, the Opportunity Scholarship Act and the School Children First Act. “Quality education starts with an effective teacher in every classroom. That is why it is so important that we modernize teacher evaluations, tenure protections, and pay structure to value student achievement over seniority. In addition, children in chronically failing districts need options to improve the instruction they’re receiving immediately. The Opportunity Scholarship Act will provide these students an opportunity to enter a high quality school setting in the short term while we work to fix the systemic problems that are all too common in certain districts in New Jersey.”


Posted: November 21st, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Education, Joe Kyrillos | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments »

Governor Christie and Geoffrey Canada Launch Expanded Promise Communities Initiative

Posted: July 21st, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Chris Christie, Education | Tags: , , | Comments Off on Governor Christie and Geoffrey Canada Launch Expanded Promise Communities Initiative

Better Education for Kids Launches Radio Ad To Promote Education Reform


B4K Calls for Bipartisan Common Sense Changes to New Jersey’s Public School System

New Brunswick (June 22, 2011) – Better Education for Kids (B4K), a 501(c)(4) organization, launched a new statewide radio ad this morning.

The ad, which begins the second campaign launched by the organization this month, calls for bipartisan common sense changes to New Jersey’s public education system.

“We need a new way forward in New Jersey. It’s time to end politics as usual and give parents, students and concerned citizens a real voice in this debate. Every child deserves to receive a first-rate education and an opportunity to succeed in the 21st century. We need to act now and make New Jersey’s public school system a national model for student achievement. It’s time to end special interest domination of our public education system and put our children’s interests first,” said Derrell Bradford, Executive Director of Better Education for Kids.

B4K believes student achievement should be the first priority of the New Jersey school system. Every student should have the opportunity to learn from a great teacher and every school should have a great principal. We need to elevate the teaching profession so that great teachers and principals are rewarded with merit pay and tenure becomes a significant professional milestone!

The ad can be heard on: www.b4njkids.org

Better Education for Kids (B4K) is an independent non-profit organization established to

promote education reform in New Jersey.


B4K is a 501(c)(4) organization under the Internal Revenue Code and is not affiliated with

any political group or committee.

Posted: June 22nd, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Education, Press Release | Tags: , , | 2 Comments »

Racial Segregation In A Northern State. A Challenge To My Governor Christie

By Tommy DeSeno, Originally published on ricochet

I’m a bit moved today that an issue I’ve been hammering away at by my lonesome for a decade is finally getting some attention.

New Jersey is racially segregated.   Some of it is naturally occurring or of personal economic genesis. The birth of that kind of segregation requires no immoral act by mankind, though whether something should or can be done about it I leave for another debate.

Some of New Jersey’s racial segregation is state sponsored.  State sponsored racial segregation shouldn’t be, from both moral and economic perspectives. Something must be done about it.

New Jersey has the highest incomes in America, but Camden is the poorest city in America. The only way to have the highest incomes and the poorest city is to have a segregated poor.   Some of that segregation might have to do with the way public housing is built.   That might be a real issue, but that is not my issue today.

My issue is education, where state sponsored segregation is a certainty in New Jersey.   Brown v Board of Education may as well never have happened as far as the racially segregated City of Asbury Park is concerned. That is ironic since Asbury Park has a school named in honor of Thurgood Marshall, who was lead counsel on Brown v Board of Education.  Thurgood Marshall and its sister schools in Asbury Park, the High School in particular, are some of the most racially segregated schools in the country.

Let’s talk about how that happened.  Asbury Park is home to some of the poorest people in New Jersey, and while it is racially diverse, it is majority Black.  It’s only a little bigger than a square mile.  It is surrounded by other small towns, some of which rank as the wealthiest in New Jersey.  They are super-majority White. They are all tiny towns, too small to have their own High Schools. So for about 100 years, children in all the rich surrounding towns attended Asbury Park High School.

Asbury Park High ran well as a racially and economically diverse school.

In 1996 state action occurred.  New Jersey’s Commissioner of Education ruled that 15 miles away, another public school in very wealthy and very white Little Silver, NJ had a better music program than Asbury Park. Therefore, anyone who wanted to study music could be bused past their home school in Asbury Park and go to Little Silver, at taxpayer expense.

Suddenly, an unexplained outbreak of the desire to learn the oboe developed among the White students, who were instantly so musically gifted that they all passed the required audition and were accepted into the other public high school’s music program.

Over the past 15 years, they quietly allowed the rich surrounding towns to peel away from the Asbury Park School District to join districts geographically further away.

That took from Asbury Park it’s economic, cultural and racial diversity.  It left Asbury Park with just he lowest income students in the state, who for whatever reason you may wish to ascribe, happen to be Black.  To look at the class pictures in Asbury Park, you would think that in 1996 aliens abducted all the white kids, because they just suddenly disappear.

Some may not have a problem with this, but that’s only because I have yet to tell you about the money side.   If it is activist courts, social engineering and throwing money at poor schools as a magic elixir that stirs your emotions, behold:

New Jersey had a Supreme Court case called Abbott come down.  It stands for this proposition:  Poor school districts must be funded to the same level as the richest districts in the state. 

Thirty-two of the State’s 500+ school districts are identified as poor “Abbott Districts” and they receive billions of dollars in extra money from the State, because the Supreme Court says they have a “right” to everyone else’s money for being poor.

Asbury Park is one of those “Abbott” districts. It is one of the lowest performing school districts in the state.   Its budget?  About $90 million yearly.  It’s High School graduating class?  About 90 students. 

However, if we didn’t bus all those kids past the Asbury Park district and brought them back home where they live, Asbury Park would lose it’s “Abbott Designation” and taxpayers would save about $60 million in Abbott funding yearly.

Such an easy fix!  Now brace yourself for the ugly side of politics to learn why it isn’t done:

Most of the suburban White people will complain to high heaven about the money Asbury Park gets each year.  But ask them if they are willing to send their children back to their geographic home district, and they will say, “On second thought, why don’t you just keep that $60 million.”

The urban Blacks in Asbury Park are just as guilty.  While they may claim to abhor racial segregation, ask them to desegregate their school and their answer is, “And lose $60 million? No way!”

The children are caught in the middle.  They are racially and economically segregated by state action, and they know it.

Since no one’s hands are clean here, there is no reason to waste time with allegations that this happened because the White towns acted racially or the Black school was greedy.  Just fix it for the children, and the taxpayer.

I have been calling on every politician since 1996 to change that awful “music ruling” and bring the White children back to Asbury Park, or close Asbury Park and send the children to the surrounding High Schools, where each school would have to take only 15 students per grade.

I’ve never gained any traction, because no one wants to admit that Abbott funding is “segregation hush money.”

Until today.  I’m delighted that Art Gallagher, who runs New Jersey’s most prolific center-right blog More Monmouth Musings, has taken up the cause.

Art notes today that David Sciarra, Director of the Education Law Center who was responsible for bringing those Abbott cases, gave a speech yesterday lamenting the racial segregation he suddenly sees throughout New Jersey schools.

That is huge news.  I don’t care if Mr. Sciarra sees racial segregation as his organization’s fault or not.  I’m just glad he sees it.  He, of course, is on the left.  Mr. Gallagher is on the right.  For the first time in 30 years, New Jersey’s left and right identified the same problem with education: Segregation.

Art Gallagher has gained enough gravitas through his blog that he has been granted one-on-one interviews with Governor Christie himself.

I hope Art and Mr. Sciarra can get the Governor’s attention to tackle racial segregation in New Jersey schools.

Posted: May 19th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Education, Race, Tommy DeSeno | Tags: , , , , | 12 Comments »

Education Inequality Is Not About Money. Its About Racial Segregation

Want lower property taxes?  Desegregate New Jersey Schools

By Art Gallagher

Finally!  Someone other than our friend Tommy DeSeno is speaking the truth about what is the real source of New Jersey’s highest in the nation property taxes and universally failing urban school districts: State sponsored racial segregation.

That’s right.  The reason our property taxes are so high and the reason urban school districts are falling is that New Jersey spends billions of dollars per year to educate white kids while spending even more, per child, to warehouse black kids and hispanic kids.

We make racial segregation sound virtuous by using terms like “home rule,””school-aid equity,” “thorough and efficient,” and “Abbott.”  Then we go to court and argue over how much money the state should send to Newark, Camden, Asbury Park and the other 27 Abbott Districts.   We don’t talk about the racial makeup of those districts, or we use the exception, Keansburg, to argue that the segregation is not about race….its about economics.

Its about racial segregation.  Liberal Blue Jersey’s schools resemble pre-1963 Alabama schools in their racial makeup.

Tommy DeSeno has been a lone voice on this issue for years.  He has used these pages at MMM for at least three years to tell the truth about New Jersey’s dirty open secret whenever a debate over education funding breaks out.  Read Tommy’s words here and here.  Read the comments.

Here’s a sample from November of 2008 for those of you who don’t want to follow the links:

Now, let’s you and I talk about Abbott Districts.

Asbury Park gets $60 million yearly in Abbott funds. It is per capita the most expensive Abbott in the state.

The district includes rich white towns like Avon, Allenhurst, Interlaken and Deal.

In 1996 they started busing the rich white kids past Asbury up to Red Bank Regional, another public high school about 6 or 7 miles away.

That CREATED Asbury as an Abbott district by segregating just the poorest black kids in the county to one school.

Here is a typical conversation I have with people from the rich towns surrounding Asbury:

RICH WHITE GUY: You know Tom, I resent having to send Asbury $60 million in Abbott funds from my tax money each year.

ME: If you stop busing your kids away and put them back in their home district in Asbury, then Asbury will lose its Abbott designation, and you won’t have to pay it anymore.

RICH WHITE GUY: You know Tom, on second thought, why don’t you just keep that $60 million.

Listen grasshopper, I’m going to teach you a dirty little secret about Abbotts, that the liberal press won’t tell you:

Abbott money in Asbury, is “segregation hush money.” Both sides of it are guilty.

White people will complain about the money, but won’t change anything because they don’t want their kids back in Asbury.

Black people will complain about the segregation, but they won’t change it either, because wasting $60 million a year in other people’s money is just way too much fun!

Meanwhile, Asbury kids are caught in the middle, attending a racially segregated school (and they know it), created by busing white kids away from their home district, as if Brown v Board of Education never happened.

There is a government caused racially segregated school right here where you live, Eric. Just like they had in the segregated south.

Tommy’s words have fallen on deaf ears because even after 30 years of the failed Abbott experiment, we would rather keep pouring money into the failed urban/minority districts and waste generations of minority kids lives than risk the “working” white school districts by regionalizing and desegregating the school districts.  We’d rather find a way to keep our “home rule” and come up with a way to make urban schools work, like charter schools,  rather than desegregate the urban schools with the successful suburban school just next door.  Let’s spend several hundred billion dollars more and waste another generation to see if we can make separate but equal work.

Maybe that will change now. 

The most powerful man in New Jersey over the last 30 years,the man who more than any other caused New Jersey school’s racial segregation, David Sciarra, director of the Education Law Center, seems to have recognised the error of his ways, even if he is not taking responsibility for what his Abbott litigation has produced over the last three decades.

According to liberal Star Ledger columnist Bob Braun Sciarra appeared in New Brunswick this week with NAACP President Benjamin Jealous and James Harris, the head of New Jersey’s NAACP.  He said:

“By any measure, New Jersey has one of the most segregated school systems in the country,” said David Sciarra, director of the Education Law Center, the organization that brought the school aid cases to the state’s highest court.

“We have to reopen that front,” he added. “We have to start to talk about what we need to do to break down district boundaries.”

If Sciarra is serious about making education work for everybody and wants to start talking about breaking down district boundaries he can withdraw his litigation that is keeping those boundaries in place before the State Supreme Court rules that Governor Christie and the legislature needs to flush an additional $1.7 billion into a failed system in the coming fiscal year.

If Sciarra is serious about making education work for everyone, he will stop measuring education equality by dollars spent and work with, rather against, the government to create a system that works.  

I think he would find a willing partner in Governor Chris Christie, who more than any other elected leader in my lifetime has expressed his commitment to quality education for urban children.

It is time for New Jersey to confront the painful truth about our education system.  We can no longer afford to pretend that money is what will make education work.  We can no longer pretend that we are spending billions of dollars per year on something other than racially segregated schools.

Posted: May 19th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Education | Tags: , , , , , | 5 Comments »

Kyrillos Submits “The School Children First Act” Reforming Teacher Tenure and Pay

Trenton— State Senator Joe Kyrillos (R- Monmouth) has introduced legislation, S-2881, aimed at providing all children in New Jersey with an effective teacher in their classrooms. “The School Children First Act” will reform teachers’ tenure and pay structure, and bringing these important protections in line with the state constitution’s mandate of a “thorough and efficient” system of public education. The legislation is modeled after Governor Christie’s teacher tenure and salary reform proposals.

“We cannot, as a state, tolerate a public education system in which some children have access to good teachers while others do not,” said Kyrillos. “We must make the system work better for kids by rewarding excellent teachers and removing those who are not effective in the classroom. In order to meet the state constitution’s requirement of a thorough and efficient system of public schools for all children, we must put their needs above all else in every facet of our educational system. That includes how tenure and compensation are earned.”

The legislation replaces traditional teacher tenure with protections that must be earned and maintained through annual evaluations that rely heavily on classroom observation, making it easier to identify and remove ineffective teachers from the classroom.

The pay structure of the teaching field will be reformed as well. Student achievement will play a role in determining salary awards under the bill, a change from the current system which compensates teachers based on seniority.

“The new system puts students first by protecting and rewarding teachers who are effective, aiding those who need to improve but still show promise and passion, and moving those who are persistently ineffective out of the classroom,” Kyrillos stated. “All the while, this legislation protects educators from arbitrary or politically motivated termination.”

Under the bill, tenure is earned after three annual evaluations of “effective” or “highly effective”. A teacher loses and must re-earn tenure after one rating of “ineffective” or two evaluations of “partially effective”.

“Teachers who are performing well or who clearly will perform well with additional mentoring and guidance have nothing to fear from this type of reform,” said Kyrillos. “However, the new system improves on current practice by stopping the excuses for educators who are clearly incapable in the classroom or have burned out.”

Finally, the bill as drafted prioritizes students’ needs by ensuring that a school’s most effective educators are retained if staffing reductions are made. “I’ll take a great third year teacher over an ineffective veteran of the system any day of the week,” said the Senator. “When staffing decisions are made, our children should have access to the best teachers whether they’ve spent two or twenty years in the classroom.”

Kyrillos said he hopes that the debate over his bill will be based on its merits rather than fear. “Change is always difficult in government, but I hope that those who disagree with this bill do so based on fact rather than fear mongering,” he said. “A system that makes it too difficult and costly to remove teachers who are failing, that unnecessarily creates winners and losers among our state’s school children because of red tape and bureaucracy, is neither thorough nor efficient.”


Posted: May 17th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Education, Joe Kyrillos | Tags: , , | 1 Comment »

Kyrillos Pushes Bill Empowering Parents to Force Education Reform

Hosts Discussion on ‘Parent Trigger’ Legislation Embraced in Chicago, California

Trenton— Senator Joe Kyrillos (R- Monmouth/Middlesex) today joined with the Heartland Institute to host a discussion with legislators and business, civic, and education leaders regarding proposed legislation that would give parents in failing school districts the authority to affect immediate change. The Parent Empowerment and Choice Act (S-2569), dubbed ‘the parent trigger’, would force certain organizational and administrative reforms in a school through community petition.

“Today in New Jersey, parents and students in failing school districts have two choices: move or to pay for a private education,” said Senator Kyrillos. “That is unacceptable to me, and it should be unacceptable to every taxpayer that foots the bill for a system that is too often unresponsive and slow to change. If enacted into law, my bill would give parents in these districts- some of the poorest and most dangerous in New Jersey- the ability to build a better tomorrow for their children by forcing immediate improvements to a school that is failing to educate its students.”

Kyrillos’s bill allows parents in a failing school, as determined by student test scores, to force the following changes through majority petition:

Reorganization as a charter school

Replacement of administrators and/or staff

Establishment of a tuition voucher system for any public or private school in New Jersey

The requested change would be required to take effect 180 days following certification of the petition.

Kyrillos noted that troubled districts in Illinois and California are embracing similar proposals. “Parents in one of California’s worst school districts, Compton, are already using the parent trigger to affect change, and Mayor-elect Rahm Emmanuel has voiced initial support for this reform in Chicago,” he said. “This is not an ideological issue. This is about rejecting the notion that children in failing schools should be denied a quality education because of administrative hurdles, legal obstacles, and an educational establishment that is resistant to change.”


Posted: May 12th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Education, Joe Kyrillos | Tags: , , | 3 Comments »

ICYMI: Christie on Education Reform and Donald Trump’s Presidential Prospects

Posted: April 7th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: 2012 Presidential Politics, Chris Christie, Education | Tags: , , | 1 Comment »